Communications of the Association for Information Systems


A team-based project is a common feature of information systems courses involving analysis and design. The use of a project assignment helps to promote active learning through hands-on engagement within a collaborative learning context. Various strategies are available for staging such projects including field projects and projects based on written cases. Each of these options tends to have advantages and disadvantages, relative to the richness of the experience and the predictability and reliability of learning outcomes. This paper reports on an innovative approach, the Virtual Interactive Project (VIP), that explores the middle ground between field projects and text-based projects in an effort to achieve some of the advantages of both. Like the text-based project, the VIP is launched by means of a written case; however, this case gives only enough facts to get the project underway. The project then evolves through web-based and email interaction between students and a "virtual client" representing the firm in the case. By engaging students as players in an unfolding story the VIP becomes, in effect, "drama" and amplifies active learning by tapping the centrality of narrative in knowledge construction. Early experiences with the Virtual Interactive Project are described, and some directions for its further development and application are suggested.